Mediterranean Diet For Dummies
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Figuring out where to buy the foods you need to transition to the Mediterranean diet is most of the battle. After that, you just have to buy them. Here is a list of food staples to have on hand in your new Mediterranean kitchen.

You can easily prepare convenient meals and healthy snacks any time instead of feeling like you have to run to the grocery store several times a week.

Always keep tabs on when you’re running low on staple items. They’re called “staples” because you use them all the time, so you want to make sure you don’t run out.

Load up your pantry with Mediterranean staples

The pantry (whether it’s an actual pantry or just your cupboards) is the perfect place to start. Open your pantry door and look at what you have on hand. You likely have several of these items already, but you can use this list to beef up your stock based on your tastes.

A well-organized and well-stocked food supply gives you the ability to make more food from scratch when you want to slow down or to throw together fast meals when you’re short on time.

Here is a good pantry list to get you started for all your needs:

  • Baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch

  • Dry yeast

  • Cornmeal

  • Extracts, such as pure vanilla, anise, and almond

  • Flours, including whole wheat, wheat bran, oat, and all-purpose

  • Sugars, including granulated and light or dark brown sugar

  • Unsweetened cocoa

  • Oils, including olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, and nonstick cooking spray

  • Seasonings, including salt, sea salt, black pepper, ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, curry powder, ginger, cinnamon, dill, parsley, tarragon, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and your choice of other dry herbs

  • Canned and/or dried beans, such as black beans, pinto beans, or white beans

  • Lentils

  • Canned soups, such as minestrone, vegetable, or tomato

  • Rice, including wild rice and brown rice

  • Pearl barley, quinoa, or bulgur wheat

  • Pasta

  • Oatmeal

  • Bread

Items to keep on hand in your refrigerator

Having a few staples readily available each week in the fridge is important because many convenience snacks and meals need to be kept cold. And of course, you’re also incorporating lots of veggies into your diet, and most of them go in the fridge as well. Here are a few basic fridge foods (including veggies) that you want to always have on hand:

  • Carton of eggs

  • Fresh vegetables, such as lettuce for salads; carrots; and celery

  • Lean deli meats

  • Cheese

  • Low-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1-percent milk or cottage cheese

  • Nuts (yes, you can store nuts in the refrigerator)

  • Natural nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter

  • Condiments, such as mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salsas, and mayonnaise

Staples for your freezer

Stocking your freezer can go a long way as you move from a fast-paced lifestyle to a slower Mediterranean lifestyle. Keeping certain frozen foods on hand for recipes simplifies the cooking process.

The following frozen items come in handy for cooking and for side dishes.

  • Frozen spinach

  • Other frozen vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli

  • No-sugar-added frozen fruit such as blueberries (great to thaw out in the morning and add to cereals or oatmeal)

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • Fish fillets or salmon burgers

  • Frozen shrimp

  • Extra-lean ground beef in one-pound packages

  • Precooked recipes such as soups, stews, and chilis

Stock your countertop with staples, too

If your countertop is empty, it’s time to put away the mail and buy a few decorative bowls. One of the primary concepts of Mediterranean cooking is having plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand, and having them literally at hand is even better. Having a big bowl of fresh fruit on your counter is so inviting that it encourages you to eat more fruit.

Many foods, such as tomatoes, lose flavor if you store them in the refrigerator. A good general rule is that if the produce isn’t refrigerated at the store, it shouldn’t be refrigerated at your home.

Here are some fruits and other items that are good to keep at the ready on the counter:

  • Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, and pears. Pick your favorites and stock a beautiful fruit bowl on your counter to pick at during the day.

  • Lemons are always nice to have on hand for recipes, to add to your water, or to enrich the flavor of your salad.

  • Tomatoes for salads, sandwiches, or other recipes.

  • Onions and garlic (in a bowl separate from the others; don’t mix your fruit and tomatoes with your garlic and onions).

  • Avocadoes (if you use them often).

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